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Indonesia wants to ban social media for users below the age of 17

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Although most social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook require users to be at least 13 years old to register, Indonesian lawmakers disagree stating they lack regulations and would benefit from a higher age limit to protect children online.

“We cannot control the whole content, social media content, especially related to violence, pornography or hate speech. One of the alternatives is to limit the age for users,” said Abdul Kadir Karding, member of the People’s Representative Council for Indonesia.

Research published in 2019 found that more than 90 percent internet users in Indonesia are of ages 15 to 19 years old.

Is this really necessary?

Aside from the numerous benefits the internet has to offer, social media is a double-edged sword.

According to The Diplomat, social media has brought plenty of negative consequences to Indonesian society. Namely, social media abuse and ethical violations.

 
IMAGE: The Guardian

Social media abuse ranges from harassment to misusing the platform while ethical violations include spreading fake news, defamation, uploading graphic images, online shopping scams, and more.

Spreading misinformation and harassment are arguably the more detrimental practices on social media but yet the government of Indonesia does not seem to take any steps towards promoting social media literacy.

Perhaps the new law will help protect vulnerable groups aka minors but many parties have suggested a layered approach instead.

This emphasizes the importance of not only creating laws to protect children but incorporating social media literacy education into the national education curriculum.

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The Indonesian communications ministry admits that the new restrictions will be hard to impose hence users under 17 are allowed to use social media only with consent from their parents.

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Cover image sourced from Anadolu Agency and NST

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Jailed Saudi woman tweeter shrugged off risk: friend

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The ability to tweak tweets after firing them off has been a feature users have long yearned for at the one-to-many messaging platform

Image: – © AFP/File DOMINICK REUTER

A Saudi woman given 34 years in prison for tweets critical of the government knew people were informing on her but did not take it seriously, a friend said Thursday.

Salma al-Shehab, a member of the Shiite minority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, had been studying for a doctorate in Britain and was arrested in January 2021 while on holiday.

On August 9 she was sentenced to 34 years in jail for aiding dissidents seeking to “disrupt public order” in the kingdom by relaying their tweets.

A friend of Shehab, who asked not to be identified for her own security, said she had not taken threats of denunciation seriously.

“We discussed people harassing her on Twitter and reporting her tweets to the security services online,” the friend told AFP.

“She didn’t think the authorities would be interested in someone with less than 2,000 followers,” she added.

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Shehab now has around 3,000 followers on Twitter.

A mother of two and a PhD candidate at Britain’s University of Leeds, School of Medicine, she was also banned from travelling abroad for a further 34 years as part of the sentence.

The oil-rich Gulf state has cracked down on rights activists, many of whom have been jailed and banned from travel.

Women’s rights activists have also been targeted.

A Saudi Arabian national flag flies in Riyadh – Copyright AFP Dimitar DILKOFF

The crackdown increased after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in 2017.

The authorities have made available an app called “Kollona Amn” (Arabic for “We are all security”) which allows “all citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia to play the role of police officer”.

It is used to report accidents or crimes — but can also be a tool to denounce political opponents.

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Shehab tweeted mostly about women’s rights in the conservative country.

She was jailed just weeks after US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia, a controversial trip because of the kingdom’s human rights record.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that Washington regularly raised the issue of human rights with Riyadh.

“Exercising freedom of expression to advocate for the rights of women should not be criminalised,” he said.

Rights group Amnesty International has called for Shehab’s immediate and unconditional release. It described her jailing as “outrageous”.

On its website, the University of Leeds said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” by the development, “and are seeking advice on whether there is anything we can do to support her”.

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